Richard Belzer, “Law & Order: SVU” star and acclaimed comedian, has died. According to multiple reports, Belzer died early Sunday at his home in Bozouls in southwest France. He was 78. A cause of death for the actor is not yet known.
Belzer stared as the beloved Detective John Munch on 1993’s “Homicide: Life on the Streets” before taking the role to where it perhaps became most notable, “Law & Order: SVU”. Belzer starred as Munch on the long-running show until 2013. In addition to “SVU”, Belzer appeared on the original “Law & Order” as well as “Trial by Jury”, playing the role for 23 years in total, across 12 different TV series including “The X-Files”, “The Beat”, “The Wire”, “Arrested Development”, “30 Rock” and “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt”. His last appearance as John Munch was in a guest spot on “Law & Order: SVU” in 2016.
While Belzer got his start as a comedian — appearing as a warm-up act during the initial run of “Saturday Night Live” from 1975 to 1980, as well being a feature player on the “National Lampoon Radio Hour” — he had a handful of smaller roles in films like “Fame” (1980), “Author! Author! “(1982) and “Scarface” (1983). He also guest starred on several TV shows, including “Moonlighting”, “Miami Vice” and “Tattingers”. Additionally, Belzer had a recurring role in the original “The Flash” in 1991 and in “Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”.
A published author, Belzer ultimately retired from acting in 2016.
Following news of his death, Belzer was remembered by his colleagues in the comedy worked, including Marc Maron and “Saturday Night Live” OG, Laraine Newman.
“I’m so sad to hear of Richard Belzer’s passing. I loved this guy so much. He was one of my first friends when I got to New York to do ‘SNL’. We used to go out to dinner every week at Sheepshead Bay for lobster,” Newman wrote. “One of the funniest people ever. A master at crowd work. RIP dearest.”
I'm so sad to hear of Richard Belzer's passing. I loved this guy so much. He was one of my first friends when I got to New York to do SNL. We used to go out to dinner every week at Sheepshead Bay for lobster. One of the funniest people ever. A master at crowd work. RIP dearest. pic.twitter.com/u23co0JPA2
— Laraine Newman (@larainenewman) February 19, 2023
Maron, meanwhile tweeted, “Richard Belzer died. He was an original. One of the greats, babe. I loved the guy. RIP.”
Richard Belzer died. He was an original. One of the greats, babe. I loved the guy. RIP
— marc maron (@marcmaron) February 19, 2023
Patton Oswalt also weighed in, writing, “Aw goddamit, RIP Richard Belzer. I just always thought he’d be around ‘cause it seemed like he always was. A true original. #TheBelzBabe.”
Aw goddamit, RIP Richard Belzer. I just always thought he’d be around ‘cause it seemed like he always was. A true original. #TheBelzBabe
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) February 19, 2023
Others who paid tribute were comedians Billy Crystal and Richard Lewis, actress Ellen Barkin, “SVU” exec producer Warren Leight and his “L&O” co-star Mariska Hargitay.
Richard Belzer was simply hilarious. A genius at handling a crowd. So sad he’s passed away.
— Billy Crystal (@BillyCrystal) February 19, 2023
Old pals are disappearing.
Belzer passed today.
Love to his family.
In happier times this is us a few days before selling out Town Hall.
We practically started our careers the same moment in NYC.
He made me laugh a billion times.
RIP Belz❤️ pic.twitter.com/uc39kvxRSD
— Richard Lewis (@TheRichardLewis) February 19, 2023
Rest In Peace dear sweet kind Richard Belzer. Rest In Peace.
— Ellen Barkin (@EllenBarkin) February 19, 2023
Richard Belzer was the first actor to welcome me when I started at SVU. Open, warm, acerbic, whip smart, surprisingly kind. I loved writing for Munch, and I loved being with Belz. We sensed this would be his parting scene. Godspeed Belz…
https://t.co/PhVvZMMcj0 via @YouTube
— Warren Leight (@warrenleightTV) February 19, 2023
Richard Belzer was many things.A hysterically hilarious standup cool comedian,one of the greatest of his era and then transitioning to one of the most popular TV series ever. “Law and order.” I knew him. He played his cards close to his chest. May he rest in peace. 🎤 pic.twitter.com/YG9akIpF1z
— Michael Des Barres (@MDesbarres) February 19, 2023
Richard Belzer was as kind as he was funny. I will miss his brand of comedy that was not confined to boundaries. And will always be grateful for a friendship that lasted almost 50 years. R.I.P .Belz#RichardBelzer pic.twitter.com/635KQPvPEX
— Alan Zweibel (@AlanZweibel) February 19, 2023
Belzer is survived by his wife, and “Homicide: Life on the Street” co-star, Harlee McBride, and stepdaughters Jessica and Bree.
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